Liverpool defeated Manchester City in a game that was less attractive to the neutrals but was anxiously poised for most part of it as the Citizens failed to break down a stubborn resistance by Reds’ defence.
Pep Guardiola set up his team where Toure and Fernandinho were sitters in front of the back four and the front four of de Bruyne, Silva, Sterling and Aguero to do their job attacking-wise.
This was partly due to the fact that City were away from home and expected high intensity press from the home side with the first whistle. This move was put to encounter the pressure and go direct on the flanks to exploit the pace of Sterling or release Kolarov on the other side.
It never really happened and we’ll analyse the rest of the part via tactics board and see what Klopp did to counter this and why it became so tough for the City attackers:-
As we see in the tactics board, City tried to negate the high press, they went to long balls for most of the time either towards Sterling /Kolarov or Otamendi trying to pick out Aguero from the long ball.
It all got back-fired as most of the Liverpool press started in midfield and final third rather than high. They only moved high when Bravo had the ball. We know City are best when they play out from back and dazzle through an opposition’s midfield and defence but they were rather in mixed mind whether to play out or play direct.
There were many long balls that didn’t reach the target and defending was easy overall. City were too slow on the ball and reacting to second ball situations wasn’t good too, they were unable to build a succession of attack that tested either goalkeeper or the last line of defence.
Aguero’s zero touch in the opposition box and de Bruyne’s zero shot on target illustrates the struggle in front of goal endured by a side who loves to play an attacking brand of football. Maybe, Pep should have changed his way a bit in the second half by deploying two strikers very early in the piece, Liverpool were getting tired and were happy to defend the lead they had, so an early inclusion of Iheanacho and changing system to 4-4-2 would have stretched the lines of the defence and created more chances.
All in all, a disappointing performance from City in many ways, conceded a soft goal where Kolarov got caught on his heels and Wijnaldum over-jumped him to score the only goal of the game. Attacking wise, knitting passes wasn’t on display and creative players seemed hampered by the situation. Obviously, Pep could have done better but the fact is his team were just not good enough overall to over-power an in-form team in a hostile environment.
10 points behind leaders Chelsea now and the manager is asking for patience to be brought in the blue half of Manchester, United in 6th place are just 3 points behind them and the pressure is on the big money manager to deliver in one of the toughest leagues in the world.
By Mizgan on 1st January, 2017
Twitter – @mizgans